By: John M Jerva
I’ve stated many times in the past that Netflix has really been a champion for foreign action movies as well as television for genre fans looking for something off the beat and path. You don’t have to look hard to find some high-octane titles from other territories and many times these films and/or shows deliver something better than the standard Hollywood fair. From the Philippines to France and even most recently Spain, the streaming giant has a library that is locked and loaded with product that shoots, kicks and explodes.
One actress has really been making a name for herself on the platform and she is Swedish actress Noomi Rapace who is probably best known for the original The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo and its subsequent sequels as well as Ridley Scott’s Promethius. Lately Rapace has been stealing the show over at Netflix with such action fueled flicks like Close and What Happened to Monday. Rapace is small in stature so it’s pretty impressive that she can pull off these adrenaline laced roles and do it with style all at the same time.
Rapace is back in the saddle once again with the Netflix exclusive movie Black Crab which hit the service last Friday. I was finally able to check it out yesterday and again Rapace delivers a strong performance as a woman who is forced to navigate a brutal war as she tries to find her daughter who is missing in all the chaos. Black Crab isn’t a mainstream film by any stretch of the imagination, and it probably won’t win a lot of people over with its bleak and dismal premise.
To make matters worse, the movie hauntingly portrays the look and feel of the current Russia/Ukraine war, and it is probably a negative aspect for it that it was released after the war had started. There are many similarities to this film and what is happening over there so that makes this film finding an audience an uphill battle to say the least. It is what it is through, and we cannot stop living life and watching movies because of what is happening in the headlines so if you go into Black Crab knowing how it eerily reflects real life situations then you might be able to give it a chance. Keep in mind that this film offers little to no redeeming value and the ending is as bleak as the entire running time.
Rapace stars as Caroline Edh who is an expert speed skater and when war erupts in her native country she is forced to go on the run with her daughter. Through a flashback we see that Caroline’s daughter is kidnapped by enemy forces and this prompts her to join the fight in hopes of one day locating here daughter through all the chaos that is happening. Flash forward some time now and we see that Caroline is a battle-hardened soldier who is plucked out for a secret mission which relies on her abilities to skate. She is teamed up with other members of the army for a time sensitive operation to transport a very important package from point A to point B and a major portion of the trip is perilous as they must navigate on ice which is covering most of the land. Add in the fact that enemy soldiers are everywhere and this is pretty much a suicide mission from the get go.
Caroline accepts however because she is told that her daughter has been found and she is actually located at the camp where she and her fellow soldiers are headed. The race is on now as Caroline and her comrades must brave the elements and enemy combatants to deliver said package that will turn the tide of the war.
Black Crab gets its unusual name because that is the codename of the mission that Caroline goes on. It gets its name because they will be mostly traveling at night and the way they skate from side-to-side mimics how a crab moves so it’s actually a pretty original title for a movie. From the start, Caroline and company run into one mishap after another and members of the unit start dropping like flies leaving viewers to wonder if anyone will even make it to the destination.
There’s is mistrust between the group and even normal civilians they run into pose a massive threat so it’s really unclear who they can actually trust. The war is never really explained, and we are never given any information on who exactly they are fighting as they are just simply referred to as “the enemy” throughout the movie. It’s all about this one mission and it takes precedent over any other explanations in plot so you will have to accept the fact that there is little development in story.
The movie really is bleak and there are absolutely no lighter moments in the film so if you’re in a bad mood or just down, you will probably want to stay as far away from Black Crab as possible. The performances are solid from Rapace and her supporting cast, so it is expertly acted but that offers little in the way of comfort while watching the flick. The most disturbing scene happens when the soldiers happen across a frozen graveyard of unfortunate victims. It really strikes a downtrodden visual and is a haunting symbol of what kind of movie this is.
Even the music is ominous and drab in tone and I even though it emulated something John carpenter would do in one of his movies. There is just a constant synthesized beat to the score that really reflects what is happening on screen. There is some impressive visuals to be had as well and it definitely has a polished look to it although it’s a black and decaying polished sheen we are talking about. The cast pretty much consists of the unit with a few stragglers here and there but it keeps things simple as there isn’t any confusion to be had. It’s a straight forward men and women on a mission story with a dystopian tinge to it.
Black Crab isn’t wall to wall action, but it does have its moments of visceral violence and carnage. There are a few skirmishes sprinkled throughout and the biggest action sequence comes two/thirds in when Caroline and the last few survivors of the unit are involved in a sustained firefight. When the action and tense moments do come, it is violent and, in your face, and this offers to the bleak aspect as we see people not only get killed but literally shredded from time to time. Even though it’s not a full-blown action movie, the tension is like its own character, and it keeps you vested in between the bursts of adrenaline. Rapace, as in the past, is solid in the set pieces that are featured, and she is clearly becoming one go to lady in the genre.
Just like my title to this review implies and as I’ve said earlier, this movie is downright depressing and there really is no hope to the proceedings or any light at the end of the tile. I won’t go into spoilers, but Rapace’s character of Caroline is really a tragic fixture and if you’re looking for any light at the end of the tunnel, then you’ve picked the wrong flick. This is a solid film but it’s just harsh and unwelcome in its tone.
Overall, Black Crab probably was released at the wrong time as it eerily reflects real life events, and the story is dismal to say the least. Noomi Rapace is spot on per usual and the rest of the cast are as well so that is a positive to counteract the unfortunate proceedings. The action is sparce, but it punctuates the tragic plot successfully and if you go in with the right frame of mind, you will appreciate what it has to offer. It’s a colossal buzzkill that is probably worthy of a one-time watch, but I can’t see many people wanting to revisit it in the future. Check it out but be prepared to watch a comedy afterwards to flush out the bitter taste of dismay out of your mouth.